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Montreal Canadiens decline to match Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet

Jun 20, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (15) during the warm up session before the game four against Vegas Golden Knights of the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 20, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (15) during the warm up session before the game four against Vegas Golden Knights of the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens have declined to match an offer sheet signed by restricted free-agent center Jesperi Kotkaniemi, making him officially a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.

It’s the first time a player has switched teams through an offer sheet since 2007, when Dustin Penner joined the Edmonton Oilers. His previous team, the Anaheim Ducks, received three draft picks in compensation.

By declining to match the one-year, $6.1 million offer for Kotkaniemi, the Canadiens will get Carolina’s first- and third-round picks in 2022.

“Carolina has used a tool available to them in the collective bargaining agreement and we accept that decision,” said Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin.

The Canadiens had seven days to decide whether to match it.

While the use of offer sheets is rare, the Canadiens tried it in 2019 with Carolina forward Sebastian Aho. The Hurricanes matched that offer to keep Aho in the fold.

Kotkaniemi, 21, had five goals and 15 assists in 56 games last season. In three NHL seasons, all with Montreal, the No. 3 overall pick in 2018 has scored 22 goals and added 40 assists in 171 games.

–Field Level Media